Whether you're creating a masterpiece or elevating the everyday, Artspan shares tips on living a more creative life.
1. Do a little something every day. The more you create the more you create. When you get in the habit of being creative, your mind will continue the process even if you’re not aware of it. It doesn’t need to be a masterpiece. It can be part of a bigger project but it doesn’t need to be. Draw a sketch, write a few sentences, take a picture of something ordinary but beautiful to you. You can do it at the same time every day, if there’s a time your brain is most lively, or fit it in whenever you can.
2. Take a walk. Once you’ve got the creative process started, take a walk. If you find yourself getting a little stuck or bogged down, try getting out of the house. Don’t force yourself to think about what you’re working on, but if you let your mind wander you might find yourself solving creative puzzles without even trying.
3. Don’t check Facebook! Or Instagram or Twitter or SnapChat or the news. Give yourself an hour or two each day free of all social media distractions. Even a quick check of your email can derail your creative process. If you need a break from what you’re working on take a walk, bake some cookies, or stare into space and let your mind wander, but try to stay screen-free.
4. Don’t judge yourself. Self-editing can be a valuable skill, but sometimes you need to shut it off, especially if you’re working on a larger project. In most cases you can go back and fix something, but only if you don’t second-guess your ideas to the point that you don’t express them at all. Let yourself work for a certain amount of time without questioning what you’re making. I used to write two pages a day without judging. On a good day, I’d feel compelled to go on and write more. On a bad day I’d scrap what I’d written and start again the next day.
5. Find ways to add creativity to ordinary things. Buy a spice you’ve never used before to add to your dinner. Write a poem for your kid’s lunchbox. Sketch the people waiting on line at the DMV.
6. Look, read, listen, watch. Go to a museum, read a good book, listen to new music. Go to the library and browse through the art books. Enjoying art is almost as important a part of the creative process as making it. And you never know where you’re going to find inspiration.
7. Carry a sketchbook or a journal with you. Any time you’re stuck waiting on line, in a doctor’s office, on a train, you can sketch your surroundings, write down ideas, or even just doodle. Sometimes the best ideas come from the unlikeliest inspiration.
8. Spend time with creative people. Find people who like to talk about making things. It could be friends, colleagues, or a group dedicated to sharing ideas about creativity. If you can’t find a group, start one yourself! Use the space at your local library or coffeeshop, or even keep it online.
9. Notice everything. You don’t need to be a novelist or a painter to see beauty in certain slants of light or certain human interactions. But if you try to look at everything around you like a novelist or painter, you’ll find that everyday occurrences contain unexpected beauty and emotion. The very act of moving through your day can be a creative endeavor, if you give everything the attention it deserves. Any time you find yourself "killing time" remember how valuable it is, and how little of it we've got.
10. Share your work. Yes, social media can be a distraction, but it can be a valuable tool for getting your work out into the world. Facebook and Instagram are great for sharing ideas and images. A website dedicated to your art can function as an online gallery, especially if you want to sell your work. Constructive feedback can be useful, and sometimes simple "likes" and positive reactions from your friends can help you move forward when you’re feeling discouraged.
And finally, don't beat yourself up if the creative juices don't always flow for you. As my mother wisely says, "Minds, like fields, need to lie fallow sometimes."